Bill's Posts Cooking Methods Life News

Start Your Chinese Pantry with 10 Essential Ingredients

Start Your Chinese Pantry with 10 Essential Ingredients

Whether or not people on the market are freshmen within the kitchen or skilled house cooks trying to attempt their hand at Chinese cooking, the only commonest query we get right here on the weblog considerations substitutions––principally for a few of the seemingly much less widespread Chinese components. What’s an alternative to Shaoxing wine? Will it style the identical with out darkish soy sauce? The reality is, nevertheless, you don’t actually need that many components to prepare dinner with and luxuriate in genuine Chinese flavors. The truth is, there are actually simply 10 important Chinese pantry components which might be core to our arsenal.

After you have these core Chinese pantry elements, it is possible for you to to make 80% of the Asian recipes right here on The Woks of Life!

No matter your talent degree, learn on if you wish to discover ways to prepare dinner Chinese meals and begin your Chinese pantry with these 10 gadgets. When you’ve received a strong basis, you possibly can add to your pantry, permitting you to make extra genuine dishes!

Chinese Pantry Basics - 8 Essential Ingredients, by

1. (Common or mild) soy sauce

Soy sauce is probably the most iconic and well-known Chinese pantry important that you simply possible have already got stocked. So many Chinese dishes use this ingredient, and these days, many western cooks are including soy sauce to their pantry arsenal to layer in additional umami taste to their dishes. Whereas soy sauce could be very generally used as a desk condiment by each Asians and Westerners, you may be stunned to study there are slight variations in style, saltiness and colour amongst soy sauce manufacturers and soy sauces from totally different nations together with Thailand, Japan, and China. Like anything, everybody has their favourite manufacturers.

The important thing to a very good soy sauce is ensuring it’s naturally brewed, in any other case it might be a less expensive artificially-flavored or chemically formulated model. In case you see an extended listing of chemical compounds and/or corn syrup and sweeteners as elements on the bottle, I like to recommend avoiding it! Through the years we’ve discovered to understand the nuances of excellent soy sauce to enhance our recipes!

For these of you who’re gluten free, don’t fret. A couple of corporations have developed gluten-free soy merchandise. Prior to now, the one various was Tamari, however there are extra choices obtainable as we speak. For extra footage, differing types, and types that we use commonly, learn up on soy sauce on our Chinese Sauces web page.

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

2. Darkish soy sauce

In terms of stocking soy sauce on your primary Chinese pantry, each common/mild and darkish soy sauces are a should. Whereas you will get by with simply common or “light” soy sauce in some dishes, to get the suitable depth of taste, colour, and consistency for different dishes, darkish soy sauce is important! There are some variations in darkish soy sauce (e.g., mushroom flavored), and also you’ll see some manufacturers seek advice from darkish soy sauce as “black soy sauce,” however they’re all fairly comparable with slight variations in taste.

Go for the culinary soy sauce expertise with a few of our favorites – Soy Sauce Hen (the identical you possibly can see hanging in restaurant home windows in your native Chinatown), Judy’s Supreme Soy Sauce Fried Rice, and our basic Cantonese Soy Sauce Pan Fried Noodles.

Backside line, remember to get a bottle on your Chinese pantry.

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

three. Sesame oil

Sesame oil is likely one of the extra recognizable flavors of Chinese and Asian cooking, maybe with the exception of soy sauce. A lot of the sesame oils you see in markets are toasted in order that they have a darkish amber colour and wealthy aroma. When you see a transparent or yellow bottle of sesame oil, it’s virtually definitely not toasted and certain won’t have as wealthy a perfume and style.

Including a bit to stir-fry dishes helps to provide your dish that acquainted Asian taste. However keep in mind you’ll be able to actually kill a dish by including an excessive amount of sesame oil. It will probably shortly turn into overpowering. So, if that’s not your intention, use sesame oil sparingly––simply sufficient to enrich your different elements and spices and sauces.

Take a look at our a few of our recipes that includes sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds: Judy’s Taiwanese Sesame Oil Hen Soup, which has plenty of ginger to heat your physique and soul in the course of the coldest winter months. Then, there’s the basic Shanghainese model of Chilly Sesame Noodles or  our easy-to-make Savory Sesame Scallion Waffles.

For extra footage and recommendations on the place to purchase sesame oil, seek advice from our sesame oil entry on our Chinese Sauces web page.

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

four. Shaoxing wine

Shaoxing wine is a kind of yellow wine from the Shaoxing area of China. Shaoxing wine bought outdoors of China is often brewed for cooking purposes relatively than as an precise alcoholic beverage. In China and particularly the Shaoxing area, this wine is usually consumed as a desk wine. Some markets carry each brined and salt-free variations so search for each! Whereas there are various varieties of rice wine, most of our recipes (particularly stir fry dishes) name for Shaoxing wine. If in case you have a salt-restricted weight-reduction plan, you’ll be able to scale back the quantity of salt you add to your dish when utilizing Shaoxing cooking wine.

Take a look at a extra full description of various rice wines in our Chinese sauces web page. We visited the town of Shaoxing throughout our final journey to China looking for actual genuine Shaoxing wines. Look out for a journey submit quickly! For these of you who actually can’t discover Shaoxing wine, an excellent substitution is a dry sherry. Sadly, we haven’t come up with an excellent non-alcoholic substitute for Shaoxing wine but, however since we have now had many requests, we’re engaged on it!

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

5. Oyster sauce

Whether or not you’re shopping for the normal model comprised of oysters or the vegetarian model produced from mushrooms, oyster sauce offers umami taste that basically elevates the style of any Chinese dish. My father was a profession Chinese chef, and he all the time stated – if you wish to make dish style higher, simply add oyster sauce. So that ought to inform you one thing!

Because of this, oyster sauce is a Chinese pantry important regardless that it’s used principally in Cantonese dishes. A great high quality oyster sauce is dear, however undoubtedly well worth the cash, so go for high quality when searching the sauce aisle of your native Chinese market!

A few of my favourite childhood and bachelor meals are oyster sauce-based, resembling Sticky Oyster Sauce Hen and our newer basic Chinese Spaghetti Bolognese. Sarah has carried on this custom with her recipe for One Pan Roasted Hen in Oyster Sauce.

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

6. Cornstarch

Cornstarch (additionally referred to as corn flour in some nations), is the most typical thickening agent utilized in Chinese cooking. Additionally it is probably the most available ingredient. Lots of our recipes name for a 1 to 1 ratio of cornstarch and water combined into an answer (or truly a colloid in the event you’re gonna be actually scientific about it). We name this combination a cornstarch slurry.

Cornstarch slurries assist us thicken numerous sauces in stir-fry dishes and braises. Bigger batches are required for making Scorching and Bitter Soup or Egg Drop Soup. The highest two ideas for methods to use cornstarch are:

  1. Combine the cornstarch and water nicely proper earlier than you employ it (it can separate inside just some minutes).
  2. Stir the sauce or soup shortly whereas drizzling within the cornstarch slurry, so lumps don’t type.

It’s that straightforward. One other widespread use for cornstarch is marinating meat. We use cornstarch to make the feel of meat silky and juicy. Cornstarch can also be used for dredging and frying, yielding a wonderfully mild and crunchy texture. Some examples of this embrace our Mongolian Beef, Mongolian Hen and Cantonese Salt and Pepper Pork Chops.

Substitutions for cornstarch are tapioca starch and potato starch. You possibly can learn extra about these starches on our Chinese Rice, Grains and Flours web page.

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

7. Floor white pepper

White pepper is never utilized in western cooking, nevertheless it’s used as typically because the extra widespread black pepper is used in terms of Asian cooking. Freshly floor white pepper is all the time extra aromatic than pre-ground white pepper, however pre-ground white pepper will do exactly effective in virtually all instances. In sure purposes, its powdery texture is most popular!

White pepper has a gentle burn that continues to the again of your throat. These of you who’ve had a very good Chinese Scorching and Bitter soup at your native Chinese restaurant or have made your personal utilizing our Basic Restaurant Type Scorching and Bitter Soup recipe know what I imply. The warmth is distinctly totally different from dried scorching peppers or chilis.

Additionally, you will style aromatic white pepper in our Salt and Pepper Shrimp and Chinese Salt and Pepper Fried Squid recipes.

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

The important Chinese pantry aromatics

Ginger, garlic, and scallions are the mirepoix or holy trinity of Chinese cooking. Okay so perhaps scallions aren’t *technically* a pantry merchandise, however they’re so essential and s0 straightforward to seek out that we’ve included them right here.  These aromatics are every important to Chinese cooking however not all dishes require all three. The flavors of ginger, garlic, and scallion differ relying on which you’re utilizing and the way you’re cooking them. For instance, ginger and scallions add delicate taste to our basic Cantonese Poached Hen and the daring flavors of uncooked scallion and ginger is used for a dipping sauce served alongside it.

Should you’re concerned with a number of the much less widespread aromatics in Chinese cooking, discuss with our web page on Chinese Aromatics Ingredients for extra info.

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

eight. Garlic

Everybody is aware of garlic, however you’ll be able to by no means have an excessive amount of garlic in your pantry when cooking Chinese meals! If you end up with a surplus of garlic, you’ll be able to even attempt our Asian model of Forty Garlic Hen.

All the time keep in mind to work shortly when utilizing garlic in your stir fry so that you don’t burn it. Garlic is the inspiration of lots of our recipes, and the bitterness of by chance burned garlic will damage your dish. In reality, when this occurs, cease immediately, discard the burnt garlic, and restart the recipe!

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

9. Ginger

Ginger has a singular taste and is utilized in many recognizable seafood recipes. Caramelizing ginger slices in oil infuses dishes with a toasty ginger taste that carries via your whole dish for a very genuine taste.

Ginger Scallion Shrimp and Ginger Scallion Lobster are a few of our favorites. Entire Steamed Fish is one other should attempt that depends closely on ginger and scallions. If seafood isn’t your factor, attempt Kaitlin’s Ginger Garlic Oil with Chilies, which has been proven to make virtually something––noodles, rice, scrambled eggs, meat––style higher!

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

10. Scallions

Scallions or inexperienced onions are used in all places in Chinese cooking. In fact, that is one other generally discovered ingredient, however for extra recommendations on the best way to purchase, retailer, and use scallions, see our Chinese Aromatics web page.

For a fast stir-fried dish packed filled with scallion taste, attempt your hand at making our Scallion Beef Stir Fry. It’s fast to make, straightforward, and a scrumptious one pan meal served over rice, good for busy weekdays and if you’ve obtained a bunch of scallions behind your fridge!

Scallion pancakes are additionally a superb use of inexperienced onions; this favourite road meals is so good that we now have a handful of recipes in our archives. However a standout is Shanghai Fashion Scallion Pancakes! Final however not least, Soy Scallion Noodles pack an intense scallion taste and are made with scallions stewed in soy sauce, lowered, after which tossed in scorching noodles.

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by


There are clearly many extra gadgets you’ll be able to add to your Chinese pantry, however for anybody trying to make a critical foray into Chinese cooking at residence or simply whip up a few fast and straightforward stir-fries, begin with the essential Chinese pantry gadgets listed right here. As you get extra adventurous and begin cooking by means of our archives of Chinese recipes, you possibly can add to and increase your Chinese pantry. You’ll be able to discuss with our rising Chinese Ingredients glossary for extra info. Drop us a remark in case you are interested by an ingredient we don’t have listed!

Bonus: What kitchen instruments do you want?

In fact, in case you’re going to top off on these pantry gadgets, you’ll want the proper instruments to go alongside. The obvious device you want is an effective carbon metal wok and metallic spatula. However in the event you don’t have a wok, that shouldn’t cease you! Merely use a big frying pan, and with our primary pantry components, you’ll be able to whip up most of our Chinese stir-fry recipes. For those who’re in search of extra info on woks, take a look at our information to the most effective wok to purchase. When you’re already the proud proprietor of a wok, examine carbon metal wok seasoning and care when you’re at it.

How to Season a Wok and Daily Wok Care by

Another gadgets you is perhaps excited about embrace a bamboo steamer, a metallic steaming rack, and an automated rice cooker. However are you able to discover ways to prepare dinner Chinese meals with out all that stuff? You betcha.

For steaming, a bamboo steamer is nice however not important. You can even use an empty tuna can or evaporated milk can in a pinch in the event you want some peak above the water. Merely put a heat-proof plate or rack on prime of the can.

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

Start your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients, by

As for the automated rice cooker, in the event you don’t have one, simply comply with our instructions on Tips on how to Prepare dinner Rice and not using a Rice Cooker for the right bowl of stovetop rice.

All in all, we’re right here that will help you construct an important Chinese pantry, and discover ways to prepare dinner nice, genuine Chinese meals!

Recreating all of our favourite household dishes can really feel daunting, however we’re right here to lend you a serving to hand. We’ve received a bunch of assets that will help you, and most of them might be present in our “how to” dropdown within the navigation bar.

  1. Take a look at Chinese Cooking Instruments, which covers a lot of the day-to-day gadgets we use in our kitchen.
  2. Reap the benefits of our Chinese Ingredients Glossary. There, you’ll discover a complete group of Asian and Chinese Sauces together with extra specialty gadgets like Chinese vinegars, chili bean paste, and fermented black beans. Our web page on Chinese Dry Spices dives into elements like Sichuan peppercorns, star anise and Gui Pi or Chinese cinnamon. You’ll see extra listings, together with Chinese Leafy Inexperienced Greens, Chinese noodles, rice, tofu, dried and preserved components, and extra. For those who’ve ever walked by means of a Chinese grocery retailer and felt actually confused, you need to use our Chinese glossary pages once you’re buying to seek out all of our most popular, genuine elements.
  3. All of The Woks of Life recipe posts listing out the components and hyperlink to our Chinese Ingredient glossary. We regularly replace our Chinese ingredient glossary with detailed descriptions and knowledge on the place you should purchase sure elements for those who can’t discover them regionally.
  4. Feedback are a good way to ask questions and we attempt our greatest to reply each considered one of them. You can even drop us a notice by way of our contact type, but when your query is related to the recipe, use the feedback so everybody can study extra!

Our aim is to make it very easy so that you can take pleasure in our recipes and dishes at house. So get began by getting acquainted with our recipe publish format and prepare dinner our recipes proper alongside us!

Start your Chinese Pantry with 10 Essential Ingredients


Complete time

2 hours 30 minutes


Start Your Chinese Pantry with 9 Essential Ingredients Recipe Sort :

Writer: Invoice

Recipe sort: Kitchen Pantry

Delicacies: Chinese

Serves: Stocked Chinese pantry


  • (Common) Soy sauce
  • Darkish soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Shaoxing wine
  • Oyster sauce
  • Floor white pepper
  • Corn starch
  • Ginger
  • Scalions
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable oil


  1. Discover ways to Prepare dinner Chinese and begin a Chinese Pantry with these 10 important elements
  2. Survey your present Kitchen cupboards and pantry and see what you’ve.
  3. Go to your native Asian grocery retailer an purchase the gadgets that you do not have.
  4. Add gadgets as wanted to make extra complicated and tastier recipes! 🙂